This morning I had a pleasant conversation with the executive director of the Danville (Va.) Museum of Fine Arts & History about how to respond to public concerns regarding plans to remove a Confederate flag from the grounds. As you might expect, they have already received some angry emails and phone calls. I am not sure how they came by my name, but I was happy to listen and offer some thoughts. Here is what I shared.
- Keep the focus on the local community. The museum’s most recent strategic plan, along with its programming, is designed to appeal to as wide a range of local residents as possible.
- Educate the local community about why there is a need to move the Confederate flag. Be as clear and as open as possible. Bring in a speaker like John Coski, who can educate those interested about why such a move might be desirable given the goals of the museum and the racial/ethnic profile of the community.
- Emphasize on the website and through other channels that the museum remains committed to interpreting Danville’s history in the Civil War.
- Reach out to the local chapters of the UDC and SCV to see if there is room to work together. This is their community as well.
- Understand that protests from individuals and groups outside the community have nothing to do with what is best for the Danville community. They have their own self-serving agendas.
- Remember that it doesn’t take much to magnify the extent of the outrage against this planned move. The vast majority of people will likely not have a problem with this decision.
This issue should be resolved one way or the other within the next week or two.